Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 32.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 08:06:40 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <email@example.com>
Subject: linear narratives & nesting
[On behalf of Ryan Deschamps --WM]
>Regarding your (perhaps mostly rhetorical) statement "Are there any
>[linear narratives] that are *strictly* linear, or is this a rather
>unproductive notion of the hypertext evangelists?" I would like to
>emphatically argue that "it depends" :) (actually, I mostly want to
>explore your statement further).
>To concur with your above statement, I think it would be foolish to argue
>in any essentialist fashion that a "strictly" linear narrative exists.
>But I do question the extent to which anyone would really argue that
>point. I imagine the term (like most abstract terms in the english
>language) to refer loosely to the extent to which something is linear or
>nested -- but that definition would relate more to how I perceive its
>usage rather than any denotation I have seen.
>Any first-person narrative, for example, automatically includes two
>levels: 1) the person's conversation with the "audience" (mystically a
>cross between the "real life" reader and an "imagined" reader) and 2) the
>story that is being related to the audience (that, in turn, may nest other
>narratives as well). Further, you could call my little essay here
>"nested" because -- while you read this message in the present -- I have
>put plenty of my past experience/readings etc. along with the
>message. Yet I still would argue that -- while technically nested -- most
>professors would not bother to include such a narrative as _Henderson the
>Rain King_ or any of my essays (quality of writing aside) in a course
>about framed narratives.
>However, one way I have thought of seeing the "nested" or "framed"
>narratives "genre" is by the emphasis that gets placed on the act of
>communication from one individual to another. Framed narratives -- as I
>have seen them -- tend to put the act of communication/information
>retrieval/historiography at the forefront, which makes them quite
>interesting to a society in a so-called information age. I would call
>Chaucer's tactic of blaming "characters" for all the offensive things that
>happen in _Canterbury Tales_ would be another important tactic ("indirect
>criticism") of the framed narrative as well.
>While I'm at it, though -- I think we can add Plato's _Symposium_ to the
>list of more than three nests: a guy tells another guy that socrates told
>a story that was told to him by Diotima(?) about love. Considering
>Alcibiades intrusion and general inability to comprehend what Socrates is
>all about, I would say that communication from one person to another (and
>perhaps its relationship to love)is an important theme in the book.
>And how does this relate to electronic communication: tune in next week
>true believers . . . :)?
>Ryan. . .
>MLIS/MPA Candidate -- Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University
Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
7848-2784 fax: -2980 || firstname.lastname@example.org
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